Portland is an easy three-hour drive from Seattle down the freeway. Although the city's public transport system, Tri-Met (www.trimet.org) is seen as an example to the rest of the US, you should consider renting a car (www.hertz.com or www.avis.com) if you want to zip off to the surrounding countryside.
Portland International Airport (PDX) is about a $30 taxi ride from downtown and is connected to nearly all major airports in the US. You can also fly direct from Frankfurt and Amsterdam (Northwest / Delta and Lufthansa respectively).
Just north of downtown, Union Station is a 15-minute walk from Pioneer Square. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) serves Portland from all along the West Coast; there are three trains a day between Portland and Seattle. Coast Starlight (www.coaststarlight.com) runs the length of the Pacific coast from Los Angeles to Seattle.
Country code for the US: + 1. Area codes 503 and 971 connect you to Portland.
Blue Moon Over Thurman Street by Ursula Le Guin is a beautiful mixture of photos, poetry, quotes and narratives following the road than runs through many different Portland neighbourhoods. Katherine Dunn's Geek Love is fast becoming a cult classic, and tells the story of a family formed into ready-made freaks by the strange drugs the parents took when conceiving. Fugitives and Refugees offers an idiosyncratic look at Portland by Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk.
Do go / Don't Go
The winter is unfortunately rainy, chilly and grey, but if you are prepared to wrap up then there is always a local café or bar on hand to take off the chill. The summer - dry, bright and glorious - is definitely the best time to visit.
Portland is paradise for those who like their food farm-fresh and fuss-free. The rain that you may curse on the street, you'll praise in the restaurants, as almost all get a daily delivery of just-dug produce from the surrounding farms. It is also renowned as the most vegetarian-friendly city in America, and there are plenty of meat-free options available. Portland loves to breakfast, and many locals enjoy going out to their local diner for a pile of pancakes and bottomless Stumptown coffee to fuel them for the day.
When downtown you can often flag taxis down in the street, otherwise they're available 24 hours a day by phone. Green Cab (+1 503 234 1414) is the eco-friendly option and is based on East Burnside.
As in the rest of the US, 20 per cent is standard on more or less everything.
US dollar ($).
Despite the high chance of rain, leave your umbrella at home if you want to blend in with the locals. Portlanders pride themselves on weathering the storm and anoraks are common attire in most restaurants.
On the first Thursday of every month,all galleries in the Pearl district host free receptions for the month's new exhibitions; Blue Sky Gallery (www.blueskygallery.org) is an exhibition that promotes photography in the community and is a lively place to start. Art on Alberta (www.artonalberta.org) organises a similar event on the last Thursday of the month, and Alberta Street is awash with galleries and restaurants opening their doors to celebrate the local artistic talent. For the edgiest independent cinema, head to the Living Room Theaters (www.livingroomtheaters.com) on Tenth Avenue.
If you needed a reason to splurge, unusually for a US state, Oregon has no sales tax.
Portland is bursting with boutiques, and a day strolling around the city is sure to yield a host of exciting finds. To get you started, here are ours. Una (www.una-myheartisfull.com) is owned by Giovanna Parolari, a woman who knows everything there is to know about Portland. Her shop is an impossibly cool collection of beautifully chosen womanswear, jewellery and home goods. To keep Mr. Smith happy, stop off at Winn Perry (http://winnperry.com) for the latest in dapper duds. To bring a piece of music-loving Portland home with you, 2nd Avenue Records is the only place to go. Canoe (www.canoeonline.net) is an emporium of functional, yet gorgeous, homewares harvested from around the world.
With no man-made vantage points, the best place to catch the perfect Portland panorama is Mount Tabor. Strike out early to watch the sun rise over the city from the peak; the park opens its gates at 5am.
Pioneer Couthouse Square (www.pioneercourthousesquare.org) is known as Portland's 'living room' and hosts a mixed programme of mostly free outdoor events all year round. The Noon Tones Summer Concert Series are lunch-hour showcases of the best local music.
Mid-March At the same time as the Alaskan's are reining-up their huskies, the Portland Urban Iditarod is attaching shopping trolleys to humans in a mass race/pub-crawl. Late March Now in its fifth year, the annual Faux Film Festival (www.fauxfilm.com) is Portland's annual tribute to non-existent cinema, showcasing the finest fake adverts, movie trailers, mockumentaries and satire from around the world. July-August Sit among Doug Firs on the side of Mount Scott for a festival celebrating all things green and musical, the Pickathon Roots Music Festival (www.pickathon.com) August The Bite of Oregon Festival (www.biteoforegon.com) displays the tasty talents of the local farms, vineyards and breweries.